World War 1 saw a paradigm shift in battlefield tactics. In the early days belligerents used 19th century strategies against 20th century weapons.  Heavy artillery would wipe out hundreds of thousands of men that marched into the bullets under the orders of their leaders.

They didn’t learn fast either, there were months of battles with massive losses before trench warfare (hiding from the bullets) was pragmatically embraced as the more tactically astute, though dispiritingly ineffective approach.

Manchester City today represents a paradigm shift in world football. Other clubs have had plenty of money to spend of course, but they are the first where it has been literally no object.  In every position on the field, among coaching staff, facilities and academy everything is the best that money can buy.

They are, as a result,  on course to break all the records:

Points in a season (2.7per game so far, Chelsea 04/05 managed 2.5)

Biggest title-winning margin (16 points ahead now, Man U 99/00 won by 18)

Most wins in a season (85% win percentage, Chelsea 16/17 won 79%)

Most consecutive wins (18)

Most goals scored in a season: (2.9 per game so far, Chelsea 09/10 managed 2.7)

Best goal difference in a season: (2.18 per game so far, Chelsea 09/10 got 1.87)

For most clubs, facing Man City is like taking on the heavy artillery with bayonets.

Leicester City, Champions of England just two years ago got tonked 5-1 off Manchester City at the weekend.  Missing from the analysis I saw of the game was any of the vitriol aimed at Newcastle United for losing one nil to Pep’s boys earlier in the season.

Leicester hardly ran willingly into the bullets either.  They played the game with 5 at the back, had only 30% of possession and just 2 shots on target, but they made more of an effort at counter-attacking the champions elect in the first half than Newcastle had.  Indeed they equalised, which United failed to do. But is equalising then conceding another 4 more excusable than Benitez’s less adventurous team going into the last 10 minutes with at least a possibility of getting something from the game? At 1 behind faster players were brought of the bench and a concerted effort was made to break and cause damage.

No team that has played Manchester City twice this season has achieved a better goal difference than Newcastle.  Obviously a better GD is disappointingly scant reward and deserves no praise compared to those teams that actually won points.  However, it tells you something that Rafa managed to keep things so tight that no other team so far has stayed closer over 180 minutes, but got most criticism for it.

Much of the bile Newcastle received stemmed not only from the fact that what we did was so effective, but also that it just fell short of being enough to gain any points.  If we had tried to break more frequently earlier in the game and been steam-rollered by four or five like others have been, then justice would have been seen to prevail and the air time would have gone to gushing over Man City goals. If we’d nicked a point like Burnley and Palace the tactics would have been justified and the upset billionaires would have been the story rather than the tactics used to cause it.

When a team with great attacking players like Liverpool stand toe to toe with City it can lead to a great game like the one they won 4-3 recently.  It can also lead to a five nil drubbing like they suffered earlier in the season.  As much as I’d like to see Newcastle and others take this sort of risk I can only envisage more and more clubs taking to the trenches up against such a ferocious, never seen before, onslaught.

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  • ToonTom

    Excellent article.

  • Leazes.

    ‘which United failed to do’

    • Wor Lass

      That Sky TV commentator did my head in with his “United” love-in. I know I accused you and others of over-reacting the other day but I`m right there with you after that! I want to throttle the bar steward!!

  • John

    We are the new stoke

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    100% spot on. After the fact, a boring 0-1 loss is always more satisfying/useful than getting slaughtered 1-4.

    • John

      Well it’s not is it because if you lose every game of the season 1-0 or 4-1 you still go down. Who wants to pay thousands of pounds a year to follow their team and watch them set up for a bore draw every game praying they get a set piece?

      • glassjawsh-got-banned

        draws and goal difference will keep us up this year

      • Virsino

        On the 13th May, I’d much prefer to be 17th in the table because we lost 1-0 to Man City, rather than 18th because we needed to feed someones expectations of how we should play against the best teams in the league. Yesterdays result shows exactly how we can get results right now. Expecting us to go out and pummel teams with the players we have is naive.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Naive in the extreme..

  • Wor Lass

    Neville is a surprisingly good analyst but he is a misearble little git who seems to have an axe to grind against us for some reason. Maybe it`s something to do with that 5-0 drubbing in `96? Of course, he is also employed by Sky and will be mindful of the box office effect of a bus parking outbreak. His masters will expect him to give anyone guilty of forgetting to be slaughtered in the name of entertainment a good spanking.

    • TheFatController

      Bear in mind it’s also Phil Neville when he’s on BBC who is against parking the bus, I remember on MOTD 2 earlier in the season he went up against Jenas who advocated ‘staying in the game and preserving GD’

      A manager is employed to best utilise his resources for a result, not indulge tv audiences with a free for all that will 19 times out of 20 backfire spectacularly.

  • Jonas

    Man Citys limitless unearned wealth has killed competition – that’s the problem,.hope its being discussed now rather than when they’ve won their tenth straight title.

    • Ben Jones

      Big part of me wants it to turn into a farce in order for it to be addressed . If it takes 3/4/5 seasons of Manchester City winning the league by 20+ points then so be it!

      • Down Under Mag

        It shouldn’t need to get to that…but sadly there are too many making too much money for them to care what happens long term!

  • Paul Patterson

    The money being paid by the top four is barmy. The only reason the likes of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal aren’t winning the title is that they can’t compete with Man City.
    Liverpool spending £75m+ on one centre back is more than we will spend on our team and THEY are the also rans in the title race.
    The sooner the bubble bursts . .

    • Down Under Mag

      Liverpool paid 75m to make a statement because they knew they were losing Coutinho…much in the same way as they splashed obscene cash at the time on Carroll to justify the sale of Torres. It’s disgraceful that there is so much money being bandied about in football these days, it’s out of control. Especially when you think Liverpool could see their player they just paid 75m for walk out on a free without any compensation because of the Bosman ruling…football is getting to be a total farce.

  • Rich Lawson

    Arsenal on their day have the players to attack City the way Liverpool did,I fancy them to take the League Cup on Sunday in a high scoring game ?

  • Albert Stubbins

    Not true. The other week pep earnestly told us all that he couldn’t compete with high wages and fees. Poor little lambs it must be such a struggle for them with their pennypinching owners!!

    • Steve

      Do you think he may have been talking about the £600k plus according to wenger Utd just paid Sanchez? I think he might have been pointing too Utd. Pogba said to be on £350k a week, while City’s top player De Bruyne and Aguero £250k per week. Pogba true cost £120m, Lukaku £90m with that £90m alone u could have had De Bruyne and Aguero! Net spend show both Manc clubs spent similar on players last 2 years but nowhere near on wages. Man got a point when it comes to them. But something tells me Man U gonna have major problems ahead because of it.

      • Albert Stubbins

        Yes you have a point there on the wages side. Personally I think it’s because now most top drawer players are opting for city and now man yoo have to offer much larger wages as an inducement. Sanchez being perfect example as apparently a verbal agreement was in place before man yoo offered to add another 100 k a week on top of what had been agreed with city. It is a case of two clubs trying to buy the league though which ever way you look at it. Man yoo broke the transfer record over a dozen times under fergie so it’s nice to see them not getting there own way any longer but for clubs like us it’s just making the gap impossible to bridge. Our only hope is them two bankrupt each other in the pursuit of constant one up manship!! I’ve still no sympathy with citeh though as they’re just as guilty.

  • thewildchimp

    A good parallel with the War but for a different reason. You see, it was like that only on the Western front. On other fronts you could see brilliant tactics and individual heroics from the start, in the West nothing for years. Much like the English football nowadays. While the rest of the world is progressing, England stagnates, even though many of the world’s best managers are in the Prem.
    Last year it was Chelsea who blew everyone away, this year ManC. Two years ago Leicester snatched the title. Every year one team changes something in their play and others simply cannot adapt.